Bhagavad Gita-The Gita begins with the blind King Dhritarashtra asking his aid Sanjaya, to inform him of the progress in the battle between his sons (the Kauravas) and their cousins the Pandavas.
The rightful heir to the throne is Arjuna (Pandvas) who is ready for battle with his charioteer by his side. Arjuna looks across to see his family and friends lined up against him ready to fight. Arjuna now decides he can’t go into battle, as it would be wrong to kill these people who he has grown up with.
Arjuna finds himself in the middle of the two armies in his chariot and is confused and uncertain on how to proceed. How can he kill these people who have been his closet friends, teachers and relatives?
BHAGAVAD GITA-SONG OF THE LORD
In despair Arjuna throws down his bow and declares himself a renunciate.
The Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord) is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, as the Kurukshetra War is about to begin. The Gita itself forms one part of the Mahabharata, which tells the story of the epic struggle, and eventual battle between the Pandavas, and the Kauravas.
Arjuna is faced with the moral and ethical dilemmas involved with war and turns to his charioteer Krishna and asks for his advice.
The Bhagavad Gita then continues with Arjuna’s questions regarding his dilemmas over war and killing, with Krishna’s guidance based on the concepts of Yoga, which is set over 18 chapters.
Dating of the Gita depends on whether the commentator believes or not that the Gita was a later insertion, or part of the original text.
The Gita is generally thought to be Vedantic, and an Upanishad, although some commentators consider it to be a synergy of Samkhya and Vedanta philosophies. Yet more say it is a revealed text, some a Smriti (remembered), as opposed to Shruti (heard)
Bhagavad Gita addresses the questions many of us have on how to proceed morally and ethically through life. The Gita offers timeless advice on the internal dialogue that confronts us when faced with decisions on whether it is right to act or not.
Some of the main themes in the Gita include:
YOGA NOT RENUNCIATION
Some religions and spiritual traditions preach a strict form of asceticism which involves renouncing all worldly possessions and commitments as a path to nirvana.
The Gita argues yoga, not renunciation. The Gita talks of Yoga as “skill in action,” or the process of selfless action. According to Yoga it is impossible to not act.
Karma, one of the central themes, is one of the big questions that Arjuna is struggling with. Karma is the law of action, reaction, so Arjuna asks the question, how can it be right action to kill? Krishna responds by reminding Arjuna it is his Dharma to fulfil his duty as a warrior Prince. Karmically Arjuna is responsible for where he is now in life, therefore in order to not create more Samskaras (karmic imprints), he must continue with his duty.
THEORY AND ACTION
Arjuna keeps asking Krishna for pragmatic support of how to put the Gita into solid action. Action is at the root of the entire work so Krishna gives Arjuna clear steps and strategies for achieving the path of yoga.
Jnana is knowledge – and Krishna teaches knowledge as the first step towards true enlightenment. Acquiring knowledge through studying spiritual and religious texts are examples.
Chapter 12 emphasises Bhakti Yoga as the route to Moksha. Bhakti Yoga or the Path of Devotion, is utter devotion to a deity. Krishna teaches that if performed with devotion and dedication, Bhakti will quickly liberate the practitioner from the cycle of life and death.
“All actions are performed by the Gunas of Prakriti. Deluded by identification with the ego, a person thinks, I am the doer, but the illumined man or woman understands the domain of the Gunas and is not attached. Such people know that the Gunas interact with each other; they do not claim to be the doer”
The Gunas are the three qualities of Prakriti, which is all matter in its potential state. The three qualities are: Tamasic (which represents lethargy and heaviness), Rajasic (which represents the opposite end of the spectrum and is fiery and forceful) and Sattva (which sits in the middle and is the balanced energy). It is said all matter has these three qualities, and as humans we can change our predominate quality. Ultimately Sattva also binds us to death and rebirth.
These are some of the main themes of The Bhagavad Gita.